Plato records Socrates as saying at his trial, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” While that may be an extreme statement, he makes an interesting point. When we rush through life, we don’t pause long enough to “consider our ways,” as the Scripture says (Haggai 1:5, 7). That’s why it is important to cultivate a daily practice of reflection.
Even if it’s only 15 minutes at the start or the end of your day, it is worth making the time for reflection. A survey of people in their 90’s discovered that they would have spent more time in reflection if they could live their lives over again. Anybody who has lived that long is worth listening to because of the wisdom they’ve gained—if only from greater number of mistakes they’ve made.
To get you started on how you can spend your time in reflection, here are three questions you can ask yourself.
1. Who am I becoming?
It is important to think through which direction your life is moving in. You are not standing still. You are either moving forward or moving backward. So it is worth asking yourself who are you becoming.
Think back over your life. Are you who you thought you would be at this point in your life? I’m not asking if you have what you thought you would own. Or if you live where you thought you would be. Or if you have reached the point in your career where you thought you would get to. I am asking if you are the person you thought you would be.
Are you as loving as you thought you would be? As joyful as you thought you would be? As patient as you thought you would be? If you aren’t, you can always change. But you have to think through what you would want to change before you can do it. That’s why it is important to think through if you like who you are becoming.
2. How am I impacting others?
You can evaluate your life in the context of the people in your charge. The people around you are a good gauge of the influence you wield. Who are they becoming? Do you like what you see in them? This can be your children, or your friends, or the people who work for you. Think through how what you are doing is benefiting them—or not. That will give you a good mirror for who you are becoming.
Look back over your association with these people. How have you influenced them? Or are they influencing you? Do they become better when they are around you? Or do become less when you are around them?
You can chart a course to change how your actions influence those around you. You can help them become better than they are. But that involves deciding that you will think through how you are impacting others.
3. Am I improving?
Once you have a baseline for who are you now and how you are impacting others, then you can assess if you are improving. You can take the time in reflection to assess how you are developing into the leader you want to be and others want you to be.
Ask God to help you become the person you want to be. Be a student of His word. Apply it to your life. And let it change you. You can ask God for what areas of your life He wants you to change. He will not overburden you with a long list. His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).
You will not notice daily changes. You will not notice weekly changes. And you may not even notice monthly changes. But God will be working on you and in you. And you eventually will be more of the person you want to be. What God starts, He can finish (Philippians 1:6).
Carve out time for that daily practice of reflection. Ask yourself these three questions, and let God speak to you during that time. Eventually you will see how you and the people around you will become more of the people that you want to be. Because you were willing to spend time in reflection.
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